Newspaper review: Bellingham death, paralysis 'cure', UKIP calypso

All of Tuesday's papers mark the death of Lynda Bellingham, the actress fondly remembered for her long-running role as the mother in the Oxo TV adverts.

The Daily Express reports the reaction of her on-screen Oxo husband Michael Redfern, who said it was "very hard not to get on with" the 66-year-old who was a "very jolly, open person".

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The Guardian reports the 42 "soap-style" adverts Bellingham made resulted in a 10% increase in Oxo sales.

However in its obituary, the Times notes Bellingham's "close association with the TV commercials also had its disadvantages" as she was passed over for the West End version of The Graduate because the producers considered her "too homely".

The Daily Mirror dedicates its front page and four inside pages to her death. Bellingham was diagnosed with colon cancer in July 2013 and the paper carries a tribute from Justin Stebbing, professor of oncology at Imperial College London, who said she handled her illness with "tremendous dignity and courage".

The Daily Mail features a tribute from the broadcaster Janet Street-Porter, who appeared with Bellingham on the ITV chat show Loose Women.

"Staring death in the face, she reduced it to a minor inconvenience," Street-Porter writes. "She died a trouper to her last breath."

Grace Dent in the Independent is similarly in awe of how Bellingham faced up to her own mortality. While life was "very much blowing through her" when she last appeared on Loose Women, Dent remarks "it is unthinkable that one can burn brightly one day and vanish soon after".

Daily Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon says the Canadian-born actress "made dying look manageable" and finishes her piece with the thought that "Lynda Bellingham has reminded us that there is such a thing as a good death. For that she must always be remembered, and celebrated".


Kobane and the Kurds

Turkey continues to be a focal point of the international community's efforts to deal with Islamic State (IS) - the extremist Muslim group which controls a large swathe of territory across Syria and Iraq.

The broadsheets pick up on the seeming U-turn made by the government in Ankara, which has been reluctant to back the Kurdish defenders of Kobane - the besieged Syrian city on Turkey's southern border.

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Now, Turkey has announced that Iraqi Kurdish forces may travel through its territory to reinforce the defenders of Kobane.

The Independent's Patrick Cockburn says this move has come about because the US "has lost patience with Turkey" which "has repeatedly refused to authorise measures to save Kobane".

This reticence is down to Turkey linking the Syrian Kurds with the PKK - the outlawed group Kurdish group which has been fighting an insurgency against the Ankara government for decades - says the Guardian.

However, the Daily Telegraph says while the Iraqi Kurds have "profound disagreements" with both the PKK and their Syrian allies the YPG, the rise of IS means the Kurdish factions "have been forced to co-operate".

But the Guardian believes bringing peshmerga fighters from Iraqi Kurdistan into the fight "could tip a month-long battle against Islamic State insurgents in their favour".

The Times reports the Iraqi Kurds are an "elite counter-terrorism unit" trained by US special forces. However, the paper reports that IS does not appear to be committing its best fighters to the battle and that more experienced jihadists are being sent to Anbar province in Iraq, which it says is on the brink of falling to the insurgents.


Several papers pick up on a potentially risky development for the pub-goer: blind darts.

"Blind optimists" is the Daily Mirror's take on The Optimists, a team comprising four blind friends who practice at The Dolphin Inn in Grampound, Cornwall.

The players are engaged in "oche-stral manoeuvres in the dark", puns the Sun, saying they "only miss and hit the wall about one in three throws".

The team use a piece of string pinned to the bulls-eye to take aim, the Times informs us. "By drawing it taut they get a good idea where the centre of the board is," it reports.

The Optimists - Richard Pryor, Rachael Beresford, Carole Pirret and Sharon Waters - will take on 14 other clubs in a charity match on Thursday.

"I don't think we get any points for hitting spectators", Mr Pryor tells the Daily Mail.


Walking tall

Tuesday's papers are agreed in saying British medical scientists have "cured" Polish firefighter Darek Fidyka who is paralysed from the waist down.

The 40-year-old is believed to be the first person in the world to have had pioneering treatment where cells from his nasal cavity were transplanted into his spinal cord, where they built new pathways to allow fibres above and below the injury to reconnect.

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The achievement has been hailed by the Daily Mail as being "more impressive than putting a man on the Moon".

Mr Fidyka, who was paralysed after being stabbed repeatedly in the back in 2010. has now resumed an independent life - even driving a car, says the Daily Telegraph.

Until now, reports the Times, complete spinal cord injuries "have been broadly viewed as permanent and incurable".

But Prof Geoffrey Raisman of University College London, which invented the technique, tells the paper what they have done is "repaired the motorway" whereas previous treatments for serious spinal injuries had only rewired the remaining nerve connections to carry the lost signals.

The Independent highlights the work of Briton David Nicholls who has raised £3m for research into spinal injuries after promising his paralysed son Daniel that he would walk again.

"Thanks in part to the charity that Mr Nicholls set up," writes the paper's Cahal Milmo, "the 57-year-old will be able to keep his promise to his son after all."


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The papers are teeing up the potential for bad weather (and Wednesday's headlines) with the arrival over our shores of what was once a hurricane called Gonzalo.

"Gonza Gonna Getcha" is the Sun's alliterative headline as the paper warns "violent winds of 100mph will pound Britain today".

The Daily Mirror's headline is "rush-hour hell as Gonzalo blows in" with "perilous conditions" expected to "batter commuters" as it is feared "a fortnight's worth of rain could drench the nation".

The Times is also concerned for Tuesday morning's travel, reporting how a "fleet of 'leaf-busting' trains" has been brought in to help the railways cope with leaves blown down in the strong winds. Rail response teams are standing by to clear fallen trees and other debris, the paper says.

Showing admirable restraint, the Daily Mail says "experts predict damage to trees and buildings, with a chance of high waves and flooding in the eastern coastal areas".


Fears after fire

The papers are concerned that Sunday's fire at Didcot B power station in Oxfordshire will increase pressure on the UK's electricity infrastructure - just as the clocks are about to change and winter draws in.

"The unexpected closure of one more power plant could leave the country struggling to keep the lights on", says the Daily Telegraph. It adds that "a series of fires at other power plants and safety alerts at two nuclear plants" has worsened the situation.

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The Independent reports there being a "one in three" chance of electricity supplies being limited this winter. Five plants are out of action, it says, and quotes energy analyst Peter Atherton as saying there is enough capacity to meet demand "provided that nothing else goes down and we don't have a cold winter".

The Daily Mail says it was a "mysterious blaze" at the gas-fired plant, which usually generates power for one million households.

The Times is concerned enough about the potential for blackouts this winter that it puts the story on its front page.

It reports that voltage could be reduced in a bid to prevent power cuts and that British households might experience "brownouts" - where people "would notice lights dimming in their homes" and "TV set-top boxes and electric clocks could fail to operate or might run slow" with the potential to damage equipment.

Concerns over the resilience of the UK's power supplies adds an extra dimension to the Daily Express's front-page splash - the suggestion from ministers that older people should only heat one room in their home this winter.

The paper is scathing in its response to the idea, calling its the "scandal of the government's crazy new winter advice to the elderly".


Farage band

The former Radio 1 DJ Mike Read, who famously denounced the Frankie Goes To Hollywood single Relax for being "obscene", is embroiled in a new row about a record - this time one he was written himself.

His song, a calypso which tells of "illegal immigration in every town", the EU "living in Wonderland", and "Commonwealth not common market", has the backing of UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage who wants it to get to number one in the charts.

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But it is the fact Read sings the ditty in a faux Jamaican accent that has led some to allege it is racist.

"David Lammy, Labour MP for Tottenham, did not find the song funny", reports the Guardian. Mr Lammy - who is black - goes on to denounce Read's "cod Caribbean accent" and UKIP's "nasty creed of politics".

Speaking to BBC Radio Berkshire, Read said the song "was never meant to be remotely racist" and is an "old-fashioned political satire".

The Daily Express reports Read as saying the tune is "a bit of fun" and is "not meant to be remotely offensive". Read added that he has "worked in Jamaica... and often have fun doing the accent".

The Daily Mail says the record - on sale online for 79p - has already reached number 17 in the iTunes chart.

It is noted by the Daily Telegraph that the 40 best-selling singles each week are played on the BBC Radio 1 chart show. However, a spokesman for the corporation tells the paper "the song is not currently on our playlist... we cannot say what will be in the Official Chart on Sunday".

The Daily Mirror has taken a look at comments made by reviewers on the Amazon website, with one saying "surely we have moved on from men singing in funny accents" while another asks "isn't calypso a bit foreign for UKIP?".


Making them click

Daily Mirror - Watch police frisk man in Muslim dress - moments after letting him walk past in Western clothes

Daily Telegraph - Parents outraged as Toys R Us sells 'crystal meth' Breaking Bad dolls

The Guardian - Paralysed man Darek Fidyka walks again after pioneering surgery

Daily Mail - 'Lynda was in too much pain... I wasn't able to look after her'

The Independent - Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies after injuring spine doing somersault celebration

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